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Winter Fishing without ice

By Eric Haataja - January 1, 2007

If this warm weather is keeping you off the ice then consider taking out the spinning tackle and heading to downtown Milwaukee. That's right smack in the middle of the busiest city in the state we have some excellent open water fishing all year. What to use? Grab a walleye rod some crawler's, leeches, spawn minnows, some casting spoons and be prepared for a potential mixed bag of trout and game fish such as walleyes, pike and bass. Yes I said crawlers and leeches; the great thing about fishing the downtown Milwaukee area is that there is a Warm Water Power Plant. This discharge usually keeps the water from 50-60 degree's all winter. Remember the walleye's don't realize it's winter and when the water is 60 degree's they are usually feeding on leeches, crawlers or cranks. Casting cranks works very well for some big fish along with casting jigs and twisters or jigs and crawlers. Look for structure such as pilings or bridges walleyes will hang tight to this cover. The browns and Rainbows will generally be in a little cooler water although I have caught them in the same areas. These fish are feeding heavily on the massive amounts of gizzard shad that are native to Lake Michigan. I've caught as many as 11 different species of fish in day last winter.

I really want to take the time to advise all the anglers that choose to eat these fish is this is a fragile fishery so please let the bigger females go and there is also fish advisory on eating these fish. Also the walleye's that are stocked here in the river are among the fastest growing fish in the state and I've caught them already as big as 11lbs right here in downtown Milwaukee!

For the trout casting sponsor cranks and fishing minnows on floats or spawn on the bottom should produce consistent catches of trout. If action is slow move to a different location, sometime moving a ¼ mile up or down river will produce more fish because water temps change a lot over a short period of the river. Find the right temps and at times you've found the big congregations of trout.

The other bite that is a lot of fun is actually carp fishing. They fight great and are fairly easy to catch. I've also caught some nice big channel cats and flatheads as well with the water being in the upper 50's to lower 60's all winter these fish remain very active. When I fish for carp I take my 9-13 foot steelhead rods with 8 lb test and throw out dough balls, corn, spawn sacs, or maggot sacs. Make sure you secure your rod because when a big fish gets hooked they fight very well! The great thing about fishing downtown Milwaukee is that you never know what you'll catch, and the action is usually pretty good!

Author Eric Haataja
Eric Haataja
Eric Haataja is the owner and operator of Big Fish Guide Service. He is an accomplished tournament pro, world record line class holder, articulate seminar speaker, father of 2 and married.
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